New season, new Knights: Darriel Mack Jr. and Noah Vedral

Courtesy UCF.

With National Signing Day in the past, the focus for UCF football is now on the future. Spring practice will ramp up soon, the spring game will be played on April 22 and of course, the season will get underway in September. Over the next couple of months, the Central Florida Focus sports staff will be breaking down the Knights’ 2017 recruiting class.

One of the major inconsistencies during the 2016 season for UCF was at the quarterback position.

Senior Justin Holman started the Knights’ first two games before true freshman McKenzie Milton took over. Over 10 games, Milton completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,983 yards and a ratio of 10 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He added 158 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

As spring practice gets going, it looks like Milton will have the first shot at being UCF’s signal-caller. However, there will be no shortage of competition.

“I don’t want anybody on our team that isn’t willing to compete. If they’re not willing to compete for a job on our team, then they aren’t going to be the kind of guys that are going to compete to win on the field,” coach Scott Frost said on National Signing Day. “There’s going to be plenty of reps to go around.”

Frost only has two scholarship quarterbacks returning this season (Milton and redshirt senior Pete DiNovo), so he said taking more than one quarterback in the recruiting class was something the Knights needed to do.

One quarterback arriving in Orlando this summer is Darriel Mack Jr., a three-star dual-threat who comes by way of Norview High School in Norfolk, Va. His senior season was a big one, as he finished with 4,132 total yards and accounted for 52 touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Mack is an intriguing prospect, especially with the up-tempo characteristics of Frost’s offense.

“I’ve been evaluating quarterbacks for a long time and I think his skillset is as good as I’ve seen in a lot of quarterbacks going on to college,” Frost said. “He’s big, he’s physical, he can run it, he can throw it. I think all that’s left for us to see on him is how quickly he can come in and pick things up.”

Mack was the 17th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country by 247Sports. He chose UCF over Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland and eight others.

The second new quarterback that will wear UCF’s black and gold this fall is three-star Noah Vedral, who comes from Frost’s home state of Nebraska. The connection between Frost and the incoming freshman doesn’t stop there.

“I actually played with [his] uncles on both sides of his family. His mother’s brother was my backup quarterback at Nebraska and his father’s brother was my wing back [there],” Frost said. “I know how tough both families are. [Noah is a] really intelligent kid with a really, really high upside.”

The 6-foot-2-inch Vedral was a three-sport athlete in high school, playing football and basketball, while also running track. In his senior season at Bishop Neumann High School, he threw for 2,001 yards and ran for 739. He chose UCF over Navy, Air Force, Ohio and four others.

The additions of Mack and Vedral will give the Knights some much-needed depth at quarterback. Since the two won’t arrive on campus until the summer, it’s unlikely that either will unseat Milton as the starter for the 2017 season. However, both will have a chance to learn the offense, develop and make a big impact on the team in the future.

Bailey Adams is a contributor for the Central Florida Focus. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22 and you can contact the sports team at EvanA@centralfloridafocus.com.